Thursday, 26 May 2011

India Unwilling To Join 1,000-Ship Navy Concept

The United States is keen to build a 1000-ship global maritime force which would include naval forces of Russia, China and India.

In this effort the United States wanted India to take initiatives to get the cooperation of Russia, China and other countries in the region. The existing cooperation between the navies of India and these countries would help in setting up this maritime force.

During a visit last month US Navy Chief Admiral Michael Mullen, briefed Indian Navy about his ambitious plan 'Thousand Ship Navy' (TSN) and took note of India's 'positive' view on it.

He also briefed Chairman of National Maritime Foundation Vice Admiral (Retd.) K K Nayyar about the global response to its plan and proposed methodology, to ensure interoperability amongst the participating navies.

Though US has stated that the 1,000-ship Navy "will not be a thousand grey hulls flying the American flag, but rather a voluntarily global maritime network that ties together the collective capabilities of free nations," it has yet to get a support from China.

Admiral Mullen today said that China's response to TSN has been 'positive' but it was keen to know the "intent of China's military strength". 

India's Response

The Indian Navy will not join any multilateral groupings, putting to rest the possibility of Indian participation in the U.S.-mooted concept of a 1,000-ship navy.

Addressing the naval commanders here, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony ruled out India joining such a group unless it is under a U.N. mandate, said a Defence Ministry statement.

While India will join maritime cooperation in the region against terrorism and piracy, there is no plan to join any broader multilateral grouping, a Defence Ministry official said.

The remarks by Antony also have cast doubt on the U.S.-sponsored Proliferation Security Initiative, the Container Security Initiative and the Regional Maritime Security Initiative, said a Defence Ministry source.

What IS TSN(Thousand Ship Navy)

For the last few years, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen has been touting the idea of a 1,000 ship navy as a way for countries to provide aid to each other in times of natural disaster, such as the Indonesian Tsunami in 2004, or to help with security issues such as piracy, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), drug smuggling or human trafficking.

"I have met with chiefs of navy from around the world, but what is also remarkable to me is that I have also met with chiefs of defense who are not naval officers. I have met with ministers of defense, they talk about this, they talk about it with an understanding of what the potential is here," Mullen said. "Again, all of this indicates to me that there is something here that's very significant in the world we are living in."

He further said that "In my dealings over the years with countries...heads of navies, one of the things I always get asked is how they are going to stay with us technologically and investment wise," Mullen said. "The technology here is relatively inexpensive and it is pretty dramatic. A lot is based on AIS."

AIS, the Automatic Identification System has been mandated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for all vessels over 300 metric tons, Mullen said.

"It's the wave of the future, and it's relatively inexpensive," he added.

AIS is a maritime variant of the Identification Friend Foe (IFF) system for aviation, Mullen noted. AIS provides information about a ship to other ships and coastal authorities, according to the IMO.

Mullen added."Years ago security at sea was based on hiding, you didn't get identified. In the new paradigm, I believe security at sea will be based almost exclusively on being identified,
and then you chase the anomaly, you chase the movement you don't have visible to you at the time," Mullen explained. "I believe the future for security in the maritime domain will require everything that moves on the water to have some identification."

One aspect Mullen is certain about, a 1,000 ship navy will not be U.S. lead. In fact he noted that the global maritime partnership will be self organizing with no alliances and no treaties.
The phrase that best describes the 1,000 ship navy is "free form," Mullen said.

"The 1,000 ship navy is dependent on knowing what it is we do at sea," he said. "We know the basic rules, there is a common bond among people that go to sea throughout the world."

As an example of how that common bond among navies can be leveraged to bring about a positive result, Mullen points to evacuation operations in Lebanon. Approximately 170 ships representing 17 nations were involved in evacuating their citizens from Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah war. Once the evacuations were complete, the ships dispersed.

One example Mullen cites is the efforts in the Malacca Straits, where Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are all providing maritime security to the region.

Those efforts have paid off, as Lloyds of London has dropped its wartime insurance rates because piracy in the area has declined, Mullen noted.

"That had nothing to with the U.S., we have no desire to provide security for the Straits of Malacca," Mullen said. "But for us, from a national and global interest, security in the Malacca Straits is very, very critical to us. That is an example particularly, in the case of Malaysia and Indonesia, these are countries we have emerging partnerships with."

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